81 percent students fail O’Level Exams

Zimbabwe School Examination Council

By Violet Gonda
05 February 2013

81.6 percent of children failed their 2012 Zimbabwe School Examination Council (ZIMSEC) Ordinary Level examinations, a drop from the previous year’s equally shocking 80.5 percent, amid calls for a curriculum review of Zimbabwe’s education sector.

Zimbabwe School Examinations Council director, Esau Nhandara, announced on Monday that only 31,767 pupils out of 172,698 countrywide passed in five subjects.

He attributed the decline to an increase in the number of students who registered for the exam, which went up by over 20,000 from last year.

Surprisingly Shona, the mother tongue for the majority of the candidates, the pass rate was only 18%. The pass rate in English was 20% but only 13% for maths.

Education minister David Coltart told SW Radio Africa that the country’s education sector remains in crisis and there are a variety of factors that have contributed to the decline in the pass rate.

He said Zimbabwe lost at least 20,000 teachers, especially between 2004 and 2009, at the height of the economic and political crisis in Zimbabwe.

Coltart said it was inevitable that there would have been an impact. “In 2008 there was hardly any teaching that took place in schools. There weren’t textbooks and unfortunately there is a batch of children now coming through the system whose education was affected by those calamitous times.”

The minister blamed the government for failing to make the education sector a priority and investing adequately into education. He said the government has to cut down expenditure on other sectors, such as the defence ministry, and should spend more on education otherwise the results will continue to decline.

ZIMSEC has not had a more than 25% pass rate since its implementation in 2003. Coltart said this was because Zimbabwe’s education sector had an academic bias.

The Nziramasanga Commission on Education reported in 1999 that the education sector needed to be more vocationally oriented as not all children are academically gifted.

“This is why we need to adjust our curriculum to have far more vocational subjects that are examinable at O’Level and A’Level,” Coltart said.

Some observers say the quality and assessment of the children who went through the UK Cambridge system seemed to work well before the transformation to the ZIMSEC exams.

But Coltart disagreed, saying ZIMSEC has a very high standard and is an institution that Zimbabweans should be proud of and should maintain through teacher training, curriculum development and financing.

“Cambridge exams are four times more expensive than ZIMSEC exams and parents are struggling as it is to pay ZIMSEC fees. The minister added: “I think it is harder to pass a ZIMSEC exam than it is to pass a Cambridge exam.”

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5 Responsesto “81 percent students fail O’Level Exams”

  1. Tora Bora says:

    Mugabenomics is catching up with everything. The fat that Smith left behind is now depleted. There is worse to come. It started with agriculture, manufacturing, health delivery, mining now education has joined the heap.

  2. wilbert_mukori says:

    This is so, so sad. 81% failed to pass five subjects and they now join the 80% unemployed; this is a completely lost generation! What kind of parents will they make?

    Everything is pointing to the critical importance to have a truly democratic constitution, not the Copca rubbish now on the table, a.s.a.p. Until we address the country’s chronic problem of bad governance, which can only be addressed by having a strong and no nonsense democratic constitution, nothing can move.

  3. super mondo says:

    crime levels will rise and households will be stressed further.

  4. Anonymous says:

    There is no one to blame excerpt ZANU(PF). How would you expect pupils to pass when they are always on toyi toyi , Border Gezi tranees becoming teachers, trained teachers beaten for their views, schools closed by warvets to teach madzakutsaku eZANU(PF) cheap politics. We are tired with this dinousar called ZANU(PF). Let it go, let it go , let it gooooooo ! Let it goooooooooooooooooooo!

  5. Pfungwa Mufairo says:

    In South Africa the pass rate for last year’s matric exams was more than 70%. Whats happening across the Limpopo? 18% pass rate, maybe weak passes as well. Does it mean 80% of our students are not intelligent enough? Something very wrong with our system. This a very poor showing to say the least and it paints a grim picture of our once envied and vibrant education system.
    What was the pass rate for the Cambridge Exams for last year? Was it a dismal 18% as well? I doubt. Clean the mess at Zimsec or go back to Cambridge School Exams.

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